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Canada goes for Gold and First Indigenous GG Gets Sworn In: In The News for July 26

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of July 26... What we are watching on the world stage ...

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of July 26...

What we are watching on the world stage ...

TOKYO — Margaret Mac Neil shrugged off the bull's-eye she felt on her to win Canada's first gold medal of Tokyo's Olympic Games.

The reigning world champion in the women's 100-metre butterfly blitzed the back half of that race Monday at the Tokyo Aquatic Centre. 

Seventh at the 50-metre turn, Mac Neil mowed through the pack to win in 55.59 seconds, which is the third-fastest time in the history of the event.

"It was more than I was hoping for at this point," said the 21-year-old from London, Ont. "I was really just trying to enjoy the experience and just have fun, which I think I did today.

"So I'm really proud of that and just trying to not be so nervous and just try to loosen up, which is when I really swim at my best."

The Canadian out-touched silver medallist Zhang Yufei of China by five-hundredths of a second. Australia's Emma McKeon took bronze.

Canada has earned three medals so far. The women's 4-by-100 freestyle relay team of Penny Oleksiak, Kayla Sanchez, Margaret Mac Neil and Rebecca Smith took silver. Jennifer Abel and Melissa Citrini-Beaulieu won silver in the women's three-metre synchro springboard diving competition.


What we are watching in Canada ...

OTTAWA — Mary Simon will be installed later this morning as the country's new governor general and become the first Indigenous person to hold the role.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau named Simon, an Inuk leader and former Canadian diplomat, as his choice to be the Queen's representative in Canada earlier this month, replacing Julie Payette who resigned in January.

Trudeau will be among the few people allowed to witness the ceremony in person as public health guidelines have set limits on attendance and mask requirements for anyone there in person.

Simon will be greeted at the Senate building by a First Nations drumming circle and be accompanied by a traditional Inuit drummer on her way into the Senate chamber.

Inside the chamber, a traditional Inuit oil lamp will remain lit during the ceremony.

Simon's first speech as governor general is to touch on the themes of reconciliation and youth.


Also this ...

VANCOUVER — A combination of drought, heat and drier fuels is causing larger areas to burn in British Columbia, says an expert. 

Kira Hoffman, a post-doctoral researcher with the University of British Columbia's faculty of forestry, said climate change is expected to create longer wildfire seasons because of more drought, which leads to drier trees and grasses. 

All of this leads to longer fire seasons and more area burned even though there are fewer blazes, she said. 

BC Wildfire Service information officer Karley Desrosiers said the area burned is "certainly more" this year compared with previous years. 

The province has seen 4,090 square kilometres scorched so far, which is about four times the year-to-date averages over both five and ten years, she said in an interview Sunday. 

The area burned in 2018 was 13,000 square kilometres compared with 12,000 square kilometres the previous year. 

The BC Wildfire Service said there were 258 blazes burning in the province as of late Sunday evening.

 That's down from about 300 earlier in the week.

There are now 58 evacuation orders in place, affecting about 4,400 properties.

Another nearly 17,500 properties are on evacuation alert, meaning residents have been told to be ready to leave on short notice.


And this...

OTTAWA — An in-depth analysis by The Canadian Press of federal parties' financing at the grassroots level shows Conservative candidates' riding-based war chests are flush with cash, dramatically outpacing their political rivals.

A review of the most recent financial statements filed by riding associations to Elections Canada show that Conservative associations have, on average, just under $61,000 in net assets, almost $25,000 more than the ruling Liberals whose associations on average had $36,250 in net assets at the end of 2020.

The figures were smaller for New Democrats and Greens whose riding associations had assets valued in the four-digit range — $7,123 and $6,240, respectively.

Only 10 Bloc Québécois associations had filed their returns with Elections Canada at the time of this analysis. The party only runs candidates in Quebec. The 10 associations with returns had on average $22,416 in net assets.

While the parties like to tout their fundraising prowess at the national level, a well-stocked riding association cannot only help fund local contests but also transfer money to other associations and the national campaign to help cover costs.

The riding associations themselves are the formal entities that can raise money in between campaigns, and may use some of that to promote a new or incumbent candidate locally before campaign spending limits come into play, said David Coletto of Abacus Data, who has studied the financing of riding associations.

The top-10 riding associations in the country were all Conservative in the analysis, with longtime MP Scott Reid's association in the Ontario riding of Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston the most well-stocked with over $351,000 in net assets.


What we are watching in the U.S. ...

WILMINGTON, Del. — The United States is in an “unnecessary predicament” of soaring COVID-19 cases fueled by unvaccinated Americans and the virulent delta variant, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert said Sunday.

“We’re going in the wrong direction,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, describing himself as “very frustrated.”

He said recommending that the vaccinated wear masks is “under active consideration” by the government’s leading public health officials. Also, booster shots may be suggested for people with suppressed immune systems who have been vaccinated, Fauci said.

Fauci, who also serves as President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, told CNN’s "State of the Union" that he has taken part in conversations about altering the mask guidelines.

He noted that some local jurisdictions where infection rates are surging, such as Los Angeles County, are already calling on individuals to wear masks in indoor public spacesregardless of vaccination status. Fauci said those local rules are compatible with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation that the vaccinated do not need to wear masks in public.

More than 163 million people, or 49 per cent of the total U.S. population, are fully vaccinated, according to CDC data. Of those eligible for the vaccine, aged 12 and over, the figure rises to 57 per cent.

“This is an issue predominantly among the unvaccinated, which is the reason why we’re out there, practically pleading with the unvaccinated people to go out and get vaccinated,” Fauci said.


What we are watching in the rest of the world ...

BEIJING — A typhoon is blowing heavy rain across Shanghai, filling roads with water and felling signs. 

Flights and trains were cancelled and many offices were closed, including the U.S. consulate.

Nearly 500,000 people have moved to shelters. 

Local authorities said the winds have felled some 30,000 trees, 268 billboards and shop signs. 

Subway services in Shanghai were partially suspended to guard against possible flooding. 

Typhoon In-fa made its first landfall Sunday south of Shanghai, then moved north across a bay before hitting land again on Shanghai’s southern edge. 

It was packing winds of just over 100 kilometres per hour this morning.

No deaths or injuries have been reported.


Also this...

KABUL — The U.N. says in a new report that more women and children were killed and wounded in Afghanistan in the first half of 2021 than in any year since the United Nations began keeping count in 2009. The report was released today. 

It says war-torn Afghanistan saw a 47 per cent increase in the number of all civilians killed and wounded in violence across the country in the first six months of this year. 

That compares to the same period last year, according to the report. 

It comes as the Taliban have swiftly captured territory in recent weeks, seized strategic border crossings and threatening a number of provincial capitals.



MONTREAL — Quebecers might need to be patient as they try to register in Loto-Québec draws intended for those who have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Quebec government has said the lottery is an attempt to get 75 per cent of its eligible population fully immunized against COVID-19 by the end of August.

Registration was supposed to open yesterday.

Any Quebecer who received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine can register in Loto-Québec draws, regardless of when they were vaccinated.

The draws will take place each Friday in August and people will be eligible to win up to a $150,000 prize or a $10,000 scholarship by registering online.

Health Minister Christian Dubé and Finance Minister Eric Girard announced the lottery in mid-July.

Dubé had said during the announcement that concerns about the more transmissible Delta variant first reported in India led authorities to go the prize route.

Quebec's public health institute said that as of Thursday, 83 per cent of Quebecers over the age of 12 had received at least one dose and 59.8 per cent were fully vaccinated.

Other provinces, such as Ontario and Manitoba, have already used lotteries to entice residents to get the shot.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 23, 2021

The Canadian Press